Thursday, April 28, 2011

New Pastor Does Prison Time

The Banner recently printed an article about Rick & Rose Admiraal planting a church in the Newton Prison.

Banner News Article

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

First Service

We had a wonderful first service at the Newton Prison on Holy Thursday.  God blessed it and paved the way for things to go quite smoothly.  Despite the fact that we had a lot of music, sound, and communion supplies, the corrections officers at the front desk were extremely cooperative.  We were able to start the service on time.  Twelve volunteers came with different responsibilities.  Some helped with music, others helped with sound, others served & prepared communion, others preached (me).  The message was called "Memory of a Meal" and it was based on Luke 22:7-30.  This is a wonderful text about the Last Supper in the Upper Room.  Jesus is so gracious to us, giving us a wonderful Meal to Remember Him by.  In the prison it was no different.  Communion was the highlight of the worship service.

  Approximately 80 inmates were in attendance.  There were some familiar faces that had been part of our New Life Bible study and prayer groups.  But other men I had never seen before.  Whether brand new or familiar faces, it made no difference.  It was a great joy to serve communion to each one.  As they came forward in very orderly fashion, it was an incredible joy to say to each man: The body of Christ, given for you.  I thought it would be an extremely emotional experience for me since it was my first time serving communion as an ordained Minister of Word and Sacraments.  However, I maintained my composure until the very end when Pastor Sheldon said to me: The body of Christ, given for you.  And The blood of Christ, shed for you.  And I felt the love of God touch my tongue.  It moved me to know deep down that Jesus also died for me.  Isn't our God amazing?  

For many of the guys, it was rare to have communion in prison.  One of the men said that it was the pinnacle of his 7 years in prison.  Another man said, the worship service wasn't was great!  I agree.  May God give us many more opportunities to serve & worship at Newton Prison.  To Him be the glory!

I want to spend the rest of my life ALIVE!

WARNING: This song rocks.

The lyrics spark my thinking about prison.
   I am my own affliction...
      There ain't no drug to make me well...
         The sickness is myself...
            We lock our souls in cages...

It's hard to free the ones you love,
   When you can't forgive yourself!
      I've made a mess of me,
         I wanna spend the rest of my life alive!

Tulip Time is Only a Week Away!

Tulip time in Pella is only a week away!  It should be quite an adventure for the Admiraal family, experiencing their very first Tulip Time as residents of Pella.  We live only one block north of the square in Pella so we should witness tons of Tulip Time Traffic!  Here are a few random notes about Tulip Time 2011.

Wednesday - Pastor Art runs the Klompen Classic 5K Road Race.  Run like the wind!
Thursday - twice daily parades begin.  Life continues at the prison where New Life has its Thursday night Bible study at 6pm.  We're studying The Passion of Christ: Uphill Faith.  Great topic.  Excellent resource.
Friday - Rick bikes on the 21-seat Big Red Bike in the Tulip Time Parade.
Saturday - Final day of Tulip Time.  Rick & Rose volunteer at the Pella Christian School food booth.

Volunteer Rally

We had an incredible volunteer rally on April 16th.  There were nearly 30 people in attendance at Calvary's Youth House in Pella.  Mary Mortenson, the executive director of Prison Congregations of America, traveled all the way from Sioux Falls.  Dan Kingery, one of two chaplains at Vermeer Corp., shared insights gained from his experience with IFI (Innerchange Freedom Initiative) at the Newton Prison.  I spoke about Vision and Volunteers, opening up with devotions from Philippians 2.  Needless to say it was a great day!

The 3 presenters: Dan Kingery, Mary Mortenson & Pastor Rick

Mary & Pastor Art deep in conversation

Michael Dunn (right) does re-entry in Ames, Iowa: The Matthew 25 House

Glenda is an enthusiastic volunteer & member of the Launch team

Monday, April 25, 2011

Christ is risen from the dead!

Christ is Risen

In Luke 24, the risen Christ appears to two travelers on the Way.  At first, they don't recognize him.  As the Stranger explains how the Law and the Prophets point to Christ, their hearts burn within them.  Gradually Jesus reveals himself to them.  At last, the 7 mile journey from Jerusalem to Emmaus is complete.  The two travelers invite the Stranger into their home to share a meal.  Jesus takes the bread that they offer, gives thanks to God, breaks the bread, and gives it to them.  At this moment, their eyes were opened.  They recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread.

Here is a connected prayer that you may use at lunchtime.

Bless my Monday quests.
Bless the fruits of the earth.
Bless the hands of farmers.
Bless the hands of workers.
Bless the texture and colors of my food.
Bless those who gather.
Bless the breaking of the bread.
Blessed Be!  Blessed Be!  Blessed Be!
Christ at every table,
Christ behind me,
Christ around me,
In the breaking of the bread.


Salvation Bracelet

Last night, I preached the Easter evening message at Calvary CRC.  It was a combined worship service for all the Christian Reformed Churches of Pella.  It was an incredible Easter service, concluding with the Hallelujah Chorus!

My message was called "Knowing Jesus on the Way" based on the Emmaus Road story at the end of Luke's Gospel.  The conclusion was the mission to Go and Tell the Good News that Christ is Alive.  On Friday I found this Salvation Bracelet at Calvary's parking lot so I used this as part of the message.  God's story is our story.  His Good News is Good News for us.  Christ is alive in our lives.

Black: My sins were black as night before Christ entered my life.
Red: Jesus shed his blood on the cross for me.
White: My sins are washed away.  In Christ, I'm white as snow.
Blue: I've been baptized!
Green: Christ has given me NEW LIFE!
Yellow: One day, I'll walk the streets of gold. **

On this Easter Monday, let's continue to live into resurrection reality.  Christ is alive in our lives today!

** My daughter reminds me that the two knots to the left and right of the beads represent two days: birth & death.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

5 Marks of Mission

These 5 Marks of Mission didn't make the final cut for my Easter evening sermon.  But it was just too good to keep to my self -

The Five Marks of Mission
These five marks were formulated by the Anglican Consultative Council and have been endorsed by the General Synod:

1.  To proclaim the Good News 
            of the Kingdom of God.
2.  To teach, baptize 
           and nurture new believers.
3.  To respond to human need 
           by loving service.
4.  To seek to transform unjust structures 
           of society.
5. To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation
          and sustain and renew the earth.

And while I'm at it, how about this powerful quote from N.T. Wright:

"The purpose of a Christian is to shine God’s light in the world ... we need the nourishment of the Spirit, which is found in the Eucharist.  At the Lord’s Supper, we taste new creation on our tongues, on our lips, and in our mouths, so we can go out to do new creation in the world."

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday doesn't get much attention.  Easter gets the bulk of our attention.  Good Friday and the Cross of Christ also draws us like a magnet to steel.  In addition, Maundy Thursday is very important because on that night we celebrate the Lord's Supper along with Jesus & his friends gathered in the Upper Room.  Meanwhile, Holy Saturday is often forgotten.

But there's a beautiful story in the three synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) about a man who cared for the body of Christ (Corpus Christi - in Latin).

Jesus' Burial in the Gospel of Matthew Account

Joseph of Arimathea was a wealthy individual who displayed his love for Jesus Christ by caring for his body in burial.  And on Holy Saturday, the Sabbath day, Jesus rested.  On Saturday, we rest too.  And we wait patiently for Sunday, the first day of new Creation, to come.

The prophet Isaiah (25:8) also waited patiently for the arrival of the Messiah.  But God gave him insight into the future blessings that await the people of God.  When Sunday comes, He will swallow up death forever!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Night of the Last Supper

In the Upper Room on the night of his arrest, Jesus shared one final meal with his disciples before his suffering.  Jesus said: "This is my body, which is given for you.  Do this to remember me.  After supper, he took another cup of wine and said, This cup is the new covenant between God and his people - an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you."
(Luke 22:19-20)

In the Lord's Supper, Jesus reveals his great love for you and me.

Pastor Rick
New Life Prison Church
Maundy Thursday 2011

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pray Today

Please pray that all goes well tomorrow.  During Holy Week, New Life will host a special Maundy Thursday Service in which communion will be served.  This will be a great joy to serve communion to the men in prison.  Thank you for your prayers.

Monday, April 11, 2011

This Week at New Life

Here are the Upcoming Events for the week of April 10-16 at New Life Prison Church.

Tuesday (4/12): New Life in Prayer Group meets at the prison.  This is an afternoon group.  We pray together while learning more about the Lord's Prayer in our book discussion ~ Praying with Power.

Thursday (4/14): New Life in The Word Group meets at the prison.  This group meets in the evening.  We open with fellowship, prayers, and praise songs then continue our book discussion: The Passion Story ~ Uphill Faith.

Saturday (4/16): New Life Volunteer Rally at Calvary Youth Building (408 Maple Street, Pella IA).  Find out more about this new prison church from 9am to 2:30pm.  Lunch will be provided.  Cost is FREE!  Open to all.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Holy Communion

Luke 22:7-30 will be the text as we celebrate at the Lord's Table
On Thursday April 21, New Life Prison Church will have a special Holy Week Service at the prison gym.  This worship service will remember the Last Supper that Jesus shared with his disciples.  We have been busy making preparations for this special day.  This includes making a detailed list of all the volunteers and all the supplies necessary to hold a worship service inside a prison.  The serving trays and cups must not be glass or metal.  Instead, the prison requires that they either be plastic or wood.  All aspects of this worship service, including the message and the music, will point to the celebration of the Lord's Supper.  I'm excited because it will be the first time that I've served communion as an ordained Minister of the Word and Sacraments.  Pray that all goes well according to God's plan.  May His will be done.  May His kingdom come.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Pella Pelicans

The other day I was riding my bike with Jim V. when we saw some pelicans by the base of Red Rock Dam.  Just another welcome surprise.  I enjoy seeing the beauty of God's creation and I'm a big fan of waterfowl.  God is good ~ His created beauty blows me away!

New Life -Thanking God in Prison

God's Creation is Beautiful!

New Life Video

New Life Church from Calvary Pella on Vimeo.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Promotional Video

Friends of ours from Calvary's Video Team put together a promotional video for New Life Prison Church.  Take a look!


I'm fascinated by the Decorah Eagles.  There's a nest-cam tracking some eagles and their newborns (hatched on April 1-2).  Decorah is in NE Iowa, about 4 hours from Pella/Newton.

Here are a few links.

Live Feed of Eagle's Nest

Decorah Eagles First Egg Pip & Hatch

The whole thing reminds me of my favorite verse:

They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.  They shall mount up with wings as eagles.  They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint.  (Isaiah 40:31)